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Art therapy can improve communication between parents and teens

My guest today is  Natalie DeFay-Foster, a licensed associate marriage and family therapist at Integrative Art Therapy in Phoenix, Arizona. Natalie is a trained Clinical Art Therapist and specializes in working with adolescents, adults and families. I am excited to speak with her today in how art therapy can be beneficial in working with teen girls and their parents.

In this episode you will learn:

  • You don’t need any previous art experience to participate
  • Art therapy can deepen and change family relationships
  • Experiential vs just talk therapy

What is art therapy and its benefits

  • Natalie share her personal experience with art therapy and how it benefited her family
    • It helped her brother “tell his story”
  • Using expressive arts can be powerful
    • [spp-tweet tweet=”“You never know what is going to come up or show up on the canvas””]
  • Is an explorative and insightful way to gain insight into your emotions or knowing yourself better
    • “There is always answers tucked into the art”
    • Another way to physically connect to your body and get out of your head
  • Using expressive arts can be grounding for adults and teens
    • Grounding is to become closer to your body, to the earth, and more present

Benefits of art therapy with teens and parents

  • Focus is on the art vs the teen being the issue
  • It is rapid and a subtle process, experiential, in the moment
  • It concretizes what is happening in the room
    • Whether is it exploring their weaknesses or past traumas-can help see it as apart from themselves
    • Can also celebrate the strengths
  • Ability to control the process
  • Can be fun
  • Working with the family there are different assessments that can be done to explore patterns, hierarchy and alliances
    • Where does the person put themselves on the page
  • Gives another way to express themselves, gain different understanding or perspective of family member
  • The nonverbal process can actually improve communication and bring awareness to the person who doesn’t have a voice in the family
  • “Well balanced family is each member gets to be seen and heard”

  • Art can bring to light what isn’t working and family/teen can begin to change the art and behavior
  • When you alter the art you alter yourself

Fears of art therapy

  • Not an artist, haven’t done art before, etc
  • Get to use insecurities in a non-judgmental way to explore and shift mindset
  • Begin to embrace imperfection

More benefits

  • Teens under more pressure these days
  • Humans are meant to be in community
  • Art has been around for centuries-it is powerful and raw and it becomes the subject in the room
  • Helps restructure what is going on in the therapy room
  • It can help improve structure within the family system
  • Parent involvement is important when working with their teenager


  • Experience teaches more
  • For teens-“Allow themselves to be themselves”
  • Use creativity in some way
  • Keep an art journal

I have some upcoming announcements I will be making for both teen girls and their moms and I invite you to sign up for my newsletter. This podcast is also available on Stitcher, Google Play, YouTube and now iHeartRadio.

Natalie’s Information:

Website: www.integrativearttherapy.net